MOSCOW - Twelve years after a group of Communist hard-liners tried to topple Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, most Russians say that if they could return to that time, they would not support any of the major players in the drama that accelerated the Soviet collapse, a poll timed for the anniversary Tuesday said.
Some 13 percent of respondents in the poll by the ROMIR agency said they would support then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who led the resistance to the coup attempt. Ten percent said they would support the coup leaders, and 8 percent said they would back Gorbachev.
But most people - 54 percent - said they would support no one.
The events that began Aug. 19, 1991 weakened Gorbachev, causing the Soviet Union to crumble and leaving Yeltsin to lead the new Russia. Yeltsin enjoyed wide popular support at the time, but that faded during his two terms as president, as painful economic reforms left many people disillusioned about democracy and capitalism.
ROMIR said its poll of 1,500 people conducted on Aug. 7-11 had a margin of error of 2.6 percent.
In another poll by the Public Opinion Foundation, 26 percent said Russia would be worse off if the coup plotters had won, while 17 percent said it would have been better off. Some 56 percent could not answer.
That poll was taken on Aug. 9 and surveyed 1,500 people. The group gave the margin of error as 4 percent.
President Vladimir Putin, who was installed by Yeltsin in late 1999 and elected in 2000, ignored the coup attempt anniversary, visiting an air show outside Moscow and then flying to the city of Kursk, about 450 kilometers (285 miles) south of Moscow, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of a tank battle that helped turn the tide against Nazi Germany in World War II.
Putin called the massive Kursk battle "a strong point in our history" and a source of "pride and patriotism."
"From here our army moved only forward, to Berlin. From the turning point of Kursk began the liberation of all Europe," he said.
Eastern European countries freed of German troops by the Nazi defeat soon came under the sway of the Soviet Union.
Putin laid flowers at a monument commemorating the tank battle and placed a wreath at a memorial to seamen killed when the nuclear submarine Kursk, named after the city, sank after a torpedo explosion in August 2000, killing all 118 crewmen. He met with relatives of two of the victims of the disaster, the Kremlin said.